Wanting to get away from people, I found one other site we would like to see. And I was hoping that it was far enough away we could explore safely. There were only a few people at the site and we were able to avoid them.
On December 7, 1941, Imperial Japan bombed Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. Because of fear of a West Coast invasion, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066 on February 19, 1942. This allowed the military to force people out of established exclusion zones. The vast majority of people forced from their homes were of Japanese ancestry. The news media published rumors that the Japanese were signaling enemy ships from shore. The FBI investigated and did not find any truth to these types of rumors but people still believed them.
In less than six months, the US War Relocation Authority
moved over 110,000 people from war exclusion zones into “camps”.
People began being moved to Minidoka in August of 1942 even before the camp was completed. The “residents” of the camp helped to finishing building the barracks and mess hall as well as installing the sewer system. Minidoka War Relocation Center was a 33,000 acre site and over 13,000 incarcerees went through it’s gate. The camp was the 7th largest “city” in Idaho.
Minidoka had five miles of barbed wire fencing and eight guard towers. About three months later, the Center Administrators said “the sudden appearance of the fence was greatly resented by the residents.” Most of the fence soon came down and the towers were not staffed. The people forced to live in the camp were peaceful and a community was created as they started to farm the land and establish schools.
Minidoka closed on October 28, 1945. Some people could return home but many of them had no homes or businesses to return to. They had to start over to establish new lives in the country they still loved.
EO9066 was not formally terminated until 1976 by President Gerald Ford. He said “We have learned from the tragedy of that long ago experience forever to treasure liberty and justice for each individual American, and resolve that this kind of action shall never again be repeated.”
These sites are sobering to visit. We also visited the Heart Mountain War Relocation Center in Wyoming several years ago. I find it interesting that most Japanese people want these sites to be restored so that their children and the rest of the world can learn from them. They don’t want them torn down and destroyed like it never happened.
Minidoka sits on the banks of the Snake River.